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THE UPSIDE OF DOWNTIME:

AN INTERPRETATIVE PHENOMENOLOGICAL ANALYSIS ON RECOVERY EXPERIENCE DURING DISCRETIONARY TIME IN MEN’S PROFESSIONAL TENNIS

TOUR

BY

HYONDO CHUNG

DISSERTATION

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology

in the Graduate College of the

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2018

Urbana, Illinois

Doctoral Committee:

Associate Professor Synthia Sydnor, Chair Professor Amy Woods

Professor Weimo Zhu Professor Diane Gill

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ABSTRACT

Recovery, defined as the restoration process of physiological and psychological resources for functional readiness, is associated with individual’s motivation and performance at

workplace, and well-being (Demerouti, Bakker, Geurts, & Taris, 2009; Sonnentag, 2001; Sonnentag & Natter, 2004). Despite the implications for athletic performance, the

socio-psychological aspects of recovery, particularly during discretionary time, has been neglected in kinesiology research. Drawing on the literature of recovery-stress balance (Kallus & Kellmann, 2000; Kellmann, 2002) and daily recovery from work-related stressors during non-work time (Sonnentag & Binnewies, 2013; Sonnentag & Kuhnel, 2016), this study examined the

significance of recovery experience during discretionary time in the men’s professional tennis tour. Interviews and personal conversations with former and current male athletes competed in the professional tennis tour were analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) to understand the recovery experience during discretionary time and its underlying psychological pathways. Analysis of data discovered discretionary time activities associated with recovery from organizational stresses as well as its psychological mechanisms in the men’s professional tennis tour.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am deeply thankful for my mentors, Dr. Gill and Dr. Sydnor, for their inspiration, patience, and leadership throughout my academic journey. I am incredibly fortunate to have had Diane and Syndy ever since I entered the scholarship of psychological kinesiology and cultural and interpretive sport studies. I also acknowledge my committee, Dr. Chiu, Dr. Woods, and Dr. Zhu. I truly enjoyed working with you, and this work would not have been possible without your expertise and guidance.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION ...1

CHAPTER II: ASSOCIATION OF TENNIS PROFESSIONALS WORLD TOUR – THE MEN’S PROFESSIONAL TENNIS TOUR ...8

CHAPTER III: REVIEW OF LITERATURE ...13

CHAPTER IV: ENQUIRY ...32

CHAPTER V: INTERVIEWS AND CONVERSATIONS – HIGHLIGHTS OF IMPORTANT POINTS ...42

CHAPTER VI: CONCLUSION ...74

REFERENCES ...80

APPENDIX A: 2018 ATP TOUR CALENDAR...92

APPENDIX B: IRB EXEMPTION FORM ...93

APPENDIX C: IRB CONSENT FORM ...94

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CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

In fact, the separation between the scientists and non-scientists is much less bridgeable among the young than it was even thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, the cultures had long ceased to speak to each other: but at least they managed a kind of frozen smile across the gulf. Now the politeness has gone, and they just make faces (Snow, 1961, 9)

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The rationale behind conducting this study hinges on my personal experiences with Hyung-Taik Lee who competed in the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour (ATP World Tour), the highest level of professional tennis circuit, for 14 years, and more recently, with Hyeon Chung who was the 2015 ATP World Tour Most Improved Player, inaugural singles champion of the 2017 ATP NextGen Finals in Milan, and men’s singles semi-finalist at the 2018 Australian Open. I worked with Hyung-Taik and Hyeon as a tour manager and sport psychology consultant while both were competing in the ATP World Tour. Such experience, combined with my academic pursuit in sport and exercise psychology (SEP), kindled my interest in the

psychological aspects of recovery and its relationship to athletic performance. Accordingly, how professional tennis players recover (or under-recover) from life stressors such as pressure to win, early elimination, travel, tight schedule, and physical and mental fatigue throughout the season was a question which I want to seek an answer. More specifically, it was of interest to examine recovery experience during discretionary time and its underlying psychological processes, and how it may influence athletic performance in men’s professional tennis tour.

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This study sought to provide sport psychology consultants, tennis players, and others working with professional tennis players such as coaches, strength and conditioning trainers, physiotherapists, agents, parents, and friends, a more nuanced understanding of the

psychological aspects of recovery experience from work-related stress during discretionary time while competing in the highest level of professional tennis. From a research standpoint, this study was guided by the scholarships of recovery-stress balance (Kallus & Kellmann, 2000; Kellmann, 2002) and daily recovery from work-related stressors during non-work time (Demerouti, Bakker, Geurts, & Taris, 2009; Sonnentag & Binnewies, 2013; Sonnentag & Kuhnel, 2016). The former framework advocates the importance of recovery, defined as physiological, psychological, and social process for recuperation of personal resources, within the load-recovery principle of athletic training (Issurin, 2010; Kellmann & Kallus, 2001; Yakovlev, 1955). That is, training stress (i.e., physiological stimulus) should be balanced with subsequent recovery phase to prevent negative performance symptoms such as overtraining, underperformance, and burnout and to maintain and enhance athletic performance. The latter perspective, largely studied in industrial and organizational psychology (IOP), suggests the importance of individual’s experience of recovery from work-related stressors during non-work time and its potential influence on job-performance and well-being (Fritz, Yankelevich, Zarubin, & Barger, 2010; Hahn & Dormann, 2013; Smit & Barber, 2016; Sonnentag, 2012; Sonnentag, Kuttler, & Fritz, 2010). My dissertation title was influenced by common English phrase “upside of downtime”. This phrase is commonly found in books, articles, and research that represent the importance of discretionary time in enhancing human performance and quality of life.

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The significance of recovery in athletic training is found in kinesiology research (Hitzschke, Holst, Ferrauti, Meyer, Pfeiffer, & Kellmann, 2016; Kellmann, 2010, Kellmann, Altfeld, & Mallett, 2016; Montgomery, Pyne, Hopkins, Dorman, Cook, & Minahan, 2008; Vaile, Halson, Gill, & Dawson, 2008). The classic view of the role of recovery was first conceptualized in the training effect theory and load-recovery principle (Issurin, 2010; Zatsiorsky, 1995;

Zatsiorsky & Kraemer, 2006; Yakovlev, 1955). To illustrate, recovery intervals between loads of physical training inducing physiological stress correspond to the supercompensation phases where the increase in strength and functional capacity may occur. Such frameworks guided research and practice in developing effective training methods for athletes such as periodization (Bompa & Haff, 2009; Kiely, 2011; Turner, 2011). Although the importance of recovery in athletic training was conceptualized, the majority of research and practice in kinesiology mainly focused on biological mechanisms of physiological responses and adaptations to physical training (Chiu & Barnes, 2003; Plisk & Stone, 2003; Thomas & Busso, 2005).

Recovery during Discretionary Time

Contrasting from kinesiology, other areas of research such as IOP and leisure studies focused on the role of discretionary time within the recovery processes associated with human performance and well-being. For example, IOP literature based on work-life balance

conceptualization implies that daily recovery during non-work time is significantly associated with job performance, work-related energy, and well-being (Demerouti, Bakker, Geurts, & Taris, 2009; Demerouti, Bakker, Sonnentag, & Fullagar, 2012; Sonnentag, 2012; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015). Leisure time experience is linked to physiological and psychological health indicators as well. In a study of 1399 adults in the US (Pressman, Matthews, Cohen, Martire, Scheier, Baum, & Schulz, 2009), participating in enjoyable activities during leisure time was significantly related

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to positive mental states, lower levels of clinical depression, and negative affect. Similarly, in a Japanese leisure activity study (Morita, Fukuda, Nagano, Hamajima, Yamamoto, Iwai,

Nakashima, Ohira, & Shirakawa, 2007; Park, Tsunetsugu, Ishii, Furuhashi, Hirano, Kagawa, & Miyazaki, 2008), participants showed significantly lower levels of salivary cortisol

concentration, perceived stress, pulse rate, and higher power of heart rate variability (HRV) after taking Shinrin-yoku (i.e., forest bathing and walking) as compared to spending time in a city area during leisure time.

A growing body of neuropsychological evidence also supports the significance of recovery during discretionary time by demonstrating the effects of mentally disconnecting from environmental stimuli on the recuperation of physical and psychological capacity (Immordino-Yang, Christodoulou, & Singh, 2012; Seeley et al., 2007). Recent neuroimaging research suggests that the activation of default mode (DM), characterized as a network of brain regions functioning when attentional focus to external stimuli is prohibited while awake, during downtime is significantly associated with the quality of subsequent mental and behavioral functioning (Northoff, Duncan, & Hayes, 2010; Spreng, Stevens, Chamberlain, Gilmore, & Schacter, 2010).

In kinesiology, the psychological and social aspects of recovery during discretionary time (i.e., non-training time) have been overlooked as the primary focus of recovery-performance research has been the investigation of the biological processes and outcomes of physical training. Although research and practice in SEP focused on developing social-cognitive strategies for stress management, little work directed to the role of recovery during discretionary time per se.

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Janke and Wolffgramm (1995) were among the first kinesiology researchers to suggest the need for a multilevel approach to recovery in athletic performance studies. That is, it is important to embrace the physiological, psychological, and social aspects of recovery that could potentially prevent overtraining and negative performance outcomes in elite sporting

environments (Gould, Greenleaf, Dieffenbach, Lauer, Chung, Peterson, & McCann, 1999; Kellmann, 2002; Lehmann, Foster, Gastmann, Keizer, & Steinacker, 1999). Similarly, Kellmann (2002) suggested a holistic approach to the investigation of recovery process in sport and

exercise. That is, life factors outside the scope of training and competition may influence training effectiveness and performance, and therefore, athlete’s discretionary time may contain useful information towards a better understanding of recovery process around loads of training sessions and competitions (Noakes, 1991). In short, comprehensive investigation of athlete’s

discretionary time may address the multifaceted nature of recovery and enhance our knowledge about the complex processes involved in the training-recovery-performance relationship.

Scholarly Significance and Purpose of Study

Despite conceivable implications for athletic performance and well-being, kinesiology researchers have neglected the significance of this emerging body of psychosocial and neural evidence of recovery, specifically during discretionary time. That is, individual’s discretionary time experiences associated with recovery outcomes and its influence on athletic performance have been overlooked in kinesiology literature. Also, previous research argues that addressing the cultural and contextual specificity of different types of sport may further our understanding of the relationship between specific organizational stressors and athletic performance, and well-being (Hoedaya & Anshel, 2003; Kamphoff, Gill, Araki, & Hammond, 2010; Nicholls, Jones, Polman, & Borkoles, 2009; Nicholls, Levy, Grice, & Polman, 2009; Park, Tod, & Lavalllee

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2012). Therefore, the purpose of this foundational study was threefold. First, to understand the organizational stresses specific to the context of the men’s professional tennis tour. Second, to identify discretionary time activities associated with outcomes of recovery from the

organizational stresses in the men’s professional tennis tour. Third, to explore the underlying psychological processes of recovery experience during discretionary time in the men’s professional tennis tour.

As mentioned above, this study was informed by my personal experiences with Hyung-Taik Lee, Yongil Yoon, and Hyeon Chung, as agent, tour manager, and sport psychology consultant, as well as in-depth interviews and personal conversations with other current and former players about their discretionary time experiences while competing in the professional tennis tour. Tracing the lived-experiences of recovery experience during discretionary time has guided the answer to the three main research questions of this study:

1) What is the significance of organizational stress in the men’s professional tennis tour? 2) What are the activities during discretionary time and associated recovery outcomes

relative to the organizational stresses in the men’s professional tennis tour?

3) What are the psychological mechanisms of recovery experience during discretionary time in men’s professional tennis tour?

Methods and theories commonly regarded as qualitative inquiry, physical cultural studies, and interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) were employed to capture and interpret the cultural aspects, lived-experiences, and individual-centered voices of discretionary time

experiences in the men’s professional tennis circuit. This approach seemed reasonable as, to date, individuals’ recovery experiences during discretionary time and its psychological processes have

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yet to be systematically examined in professional tennis research. Also, my professional experiences and connections in the ATP World Tour have been utilized as part of overcoming participant access issues in elite and professional sport studies, and therefore, contributing to conducting a more ecologically-valid and nuanced stress-recovery-performance research (Kellmann & Beckmann, 2003).

Organization of the Dissertation

This dissertation consists of 6 chapters. In chapter 2, the structure of the ATP World Tour is summarized to describe the context of men’s professional tennis circuit as a workplace. In chapter 3, a review of literature relevant to the purpose of study including a summary of stress management literature in SEP, definition, conceptualization, outcomes, as well as psychological mechanism of recovery (i.e., psychological detachment) studied in IOP, and an overview of organizational stress in men’s professional tennis tour, is provided. In chapter 4, the details of enquiry in this study including positionality, the use of IPA in SEP, epistemological and ontological orientation, and cultural analysis are described. In chapter 5, the ways in which significant dialogue about recovery experience from work-related stress during discretionary time and its psychological processes in men’s professional tennis tour as exemplified through the lived-experiences of current and former athletes in the ATP Tour are illustrated. Lastly, in

chapter 6, I provide summary of original findings from previous chapters, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research in professional tennis. Also, I briefly comment about my academic journey of conducting this study and future plans as a researcher in the field of kinesiology.

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CHAPTER II

ASSOCIATION OF TENNIS PROFESSIONALS WORLD TOUR – THE MEN’S PROFESSIONAL TENNIS TOUR

In this chapter, I forward the idea that the ATP World Tour (ATP Tour) can be conceived as a workplace where athletes engage in high levels of competition in pursuit of performance excellence and financial achievement (Weinberg & Gould, 2010, p. 505). Background information about the structure and administration of the ATP Tour is provided. Also,

information regarding tournament levels, calendar, entry, ranking system, prize money, as well as cost and logistics of competing in the ATP Tour is provided.

ATP World Tour

ATP Tour is the international men’s professional tennis circuit organized and

administered by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Regular calendar of the ATP Tour includes Grand Slam tournaments, ATP World Tour Masters 1000s, ATP World Tour 500 series, and ATP World Tour 250 series. According to ATP World Tour Media Guide (ATP, 2018), 66 tournaments are played in 64 different cities in 6 different continents for 46 weeks throughout the season.

Tournament Levels

Tournaments in the ATP Tour are categorized into five levels by total prize money and financial commitment; Grand Slam tournaments, ATP World Tour Masters1000s, ATP World Tour 500 series, and ATP World Tour 250 series. Grand Slam tournaments are the four biggest events (i.e., Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open) in the ATP World Tour

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in terms of prize money and draw size, and ranking points. Numbers after ATP World Tour denote minimum total prize money for each ATP event (e.g., 250 denotes minimum total prize money of $250,000). ATP Tour calendar for 2018 season including total financial commitment including prize money, draw size, and length of tournament by tournament levels are provided (appendix A). ATP Challengers Tour serves as an entry level event with total prize money ranging from $50,000 to $125,000. Although ATP Challengers Tour is administered by ATP, it is not considered as part of ATP World Tour. Therefore, it was excluded from discussion in present study.

Tournament Calendar

In the ATP World Tour, group of tournaments in the same or close by regions are scheduled for four to eight consecutive weeks throughout the season. This scheduling helps to efficiently manage travel schedule for players, coaches, agents, and officials on the tour. The season begins with a month-long series in Asia (Doha, Qatar; Pune, India) and Oceania

(Brisbane and Sydney, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand), and warps up with a two-week major tournament in Melbourne, Australia (Australian Open). In the month of February, indoor

hardcourt tournaments take place in Europe (Montpellier and Marseille, France; Sofia, Bulgaria; Rotterdam, Netherlands) and North America (Queens, NY, USA). Clay court tournaments also take place in South and Central America (Quito, Ecuador; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sao Paolo, Brazil), as well as some hardcourt events in Middle East (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), Americas (Acapulco, Mexico; Delray Beach, FL, USA). Two ATP 1000 Masters Series, each taking place for 10 days with a three-day break in between, are scheduled in Indian Wells, CA and Miami, FL in March. European clay court season (seven ATP 250, one ATP 500, and three ATP 1000 Masters in 11 cities and 9 different countries in Europe) starts in April and ends with

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the second major tournament of the season, French Open (Paris, France), in end of May. Few additional clay court tournaments are scheduled after Roland Garros (French Open) reflecting the high popularity of red clay court in Europe (Bastad, Sweden; Umag, Croatia; Hamburg,

Germany; Gstaad, Switzerland; Kitzbuhel, Austira). Then, the circuit continues in grass courts; s-Hertogenbosch (Netherlands), Stuttgart and Halle (Germany), London and Eastbourne (UK), Antalya (Turkey), Newport (USA), and the third major championship of the year, Wimbledon (UK).

The summer season is called North American Hard Court Season or Summer Swing, and features 6 tournaments (three ATP 250s, one ATP 500, and two ATP 1000 Masters) in Mexico (Los Cabos), Canada (alternate between Montreal and Toronto every year), and USA (Atlanta, GA; Washington DC, Winston-Salem, NC; Cincinnati, OH), plus the last major tournament of the season (US Open, Flushing Meadows, NY), The tour moves to the Asian region (Chengdu, Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai, China; Tokyo, Japan) in the months of September and October. Then, the season wraps up with European indoor series (St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia; Metz and Paris, France; Antwerp, Netherlands, Stockholm, Sweden; Basel, Switzerland; Vienna, Austria; London, UK; Milan, Italy) which typically ends around mid-November.

Entry Process

ATP World Tour uses an online tournament entry system called ATP Playerzone. All transactions regarding tournament participation (e.g., enter, withdraw, petition, sanction, appeal, etc.) are made through the official website built exclusively for players on the ATP World Tour. Entry deadline for all levels of ATP World Tour events is Monday at noon, six weeks before the start date of the tournament. The entry process through ATP Playerzone complies with the ATP

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Rulebook (ATP, 2018) which administrates all activities related to tournaments in ATP Tour such as marketing, branding, finance, personnel, facilities and tournament structures,

competition, code, cases and decisions, appeals, and healthcare and medicine.

ATP World Tour Rankings

ATP World Tour Rankings use objective mathematical and merit-based methods to determine eligibility and qualification for tournament entry and seeding (Association for Tennis Professionals, 2016). ATP World Tour Rankings are calculated based on points earned from best 18 tournaments during the past 52 weeks. Higher ranking positions provide players both greater opportunity to play higher tier tournaments and more flexibility to choose tournaments of preference based on region, court surface, training schedule, and so on. Therefore, players often express the hardship about earning and defending (points earned from last year) as many points as possible every week. In addition, chasing for ranking points could motivate (or stress) players as rankings are often associated with financial bonus from sponsorship and endorsement

contracts which is a significant source of income in the professional tennis tour.

Prize Money

Prize money earned from tournaments is a major source of income for players on the professional tennis tour. Prize money breakdowns are established based on tournament tier (by total financial commitment) and number of rounds reached. Prize money is paid directly though ATP to each player’s bank account by the Wednesday following the conclusion of tournament. Players have choice of deducting costs during the tournament stay such as hotel, laundry,

stringing, and ATP membership and tournament fee (if applicable). Also, prize money is subject to local tax laws ranging from zero to forty percent tax withheld that affect net money received

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each week. This, sometimes, influence player’s decision of country of residence as well as choice of tournament entries for maximizing net pay of prize money.

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CHAPTER III

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

In this chapter, literature relevant to the research questions of this study is reviewed. This literature review begins with an overview of stress and stress management literature in sport and exercise psychology (SEP). Then industrial and organizational psychology (IOP) literature on the effects of recovery from work-related stress during non-work time (i.e., discretionary time) on job-related behavior and well-being is reviewed. In addition, a brief overview of psychological detachment as one of psychological mechanisms for recovery experience during discretionary time is provided. Lastly, based on the conceptualization of organizational stress used in IOP, common stresses athletes experience in the ATP Tour are identified by reviewing the structure of the men’s professional tennis tour, personal anecdotes, and empirical evidence.

Stress Management Research in SEP

Stress is defined as an ongoing transaction between an individual and the environment to overcome situational demands that exceed available resources (Fletcher, Hanton, & Mellalieu, 2006). Research on the relationship between stress and athletic performance stems from the early studies on anxiety and performance such as Drive Theory and Inverted-U Theory. The Drive Theory explains the link between increased arousal and habit or dominant response performance (Hull, 1943; Taylor, 1956), and the Inverted-U Theory indicates that excessive levels of arousal may hamper athletic performance (Martens & Landers, 1970; Sonstroem & Bernardo, 1982). Although these early works addressed the association between arousal and performance, individual differences in cognitively appraising and adapting to stressful situations were not taken in to account.

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SEP research adopted cognitive stress models to overcome the limitations of the classic anxiety-performance perspective. For example, the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping (Larzarus, 1966) is a widely applied framework for understanding how stress is processed and managed within the interaction between personal and environmental resources. Central feature of this framework is an appraisal by personal agency to determine whether the adversity or stressor encountered is a threat to maintaining normal functioning. Primary appraisal occurs in the presence of an imbalance between personal and environmental resources and situational demands, and creates perceptions about the present event as stressful, positive, controllable, challenging, or irrelevant (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Then, based on available adaptation resources such as personality, previous experience of coping, intra and interpersonal resources, a secondary appraisal may occur. During secondary appraisal, an individual determines what actions can be made to alleviate stress and related symptoms. In addition, this model emphasizes that stress appraisals may fluctuate as result of dynamic change in personal and environmental resources.

Stress Management Model for Sport (Smith, 1980) is a conceptual model that assisted wide range of stress management research in SEP. In this model, a concept of integrative coping response is proposed to provide theoretical framework for examining both cognitive and

behavioral strategies of stress management. Individual appraisal is the key within in the stress response which has physiological, psychological, and behavioral correlates and consequences. Also, stress appraisal is affected by coping resources in both personal and environmental levels. This stipulates that stress response may be better managed by intervening stress appraisal which is influenced by personal and environmental resources.

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Stress models encompassing cognitive aspects of stress appraisal not only expanded the knowledge about the processes around stress, but also allowed scientists to study and develop effective stress management strategies in sport and exercise context. This is particularly important in elite sport given that management of stress is critically linked to achieving performance excellence (Scorniaenchi & Feltz, 2010), compromised performance (Lazarus, 2000), physical and mental health (Nicholls, Backhouse, Polman, & McKenna, 2009), and increased risk of athletic injury (Perna, Antoni, Baum, Gordon, & Schneiderman, 2003; Smith, Ptacek, & Smoll, 1992).

In summary, cognitive (i.e., stress appraisal) and behavioral (i.e., coping) dimensions of stress and stress management guided the advancement of SEP research and practice in the maintenance and enhancement of athletic performance and well-being. Further investigation of personal and environmental resources may broaden our knowledge about the cognitive and behavioral aspects of the stress-performance relationship. Recovery from work-related stress during discretionary time, mainly studied in IOP may be a useful framework to apply in stress-performance research in kinesiology. This concept may assist to explain how athletes restore personal resources during discretionary time and maximize performance readiness. In addition, this approach may be particularly useful for the research in professional and elite sport where athletes are exposed to high degrees of organizational stress in pursuit of performance

excellence, fame and reputation, and financial achievement (Weinberg & Gould, 2010, p. 505). In the following section, empirical evidence from IOP research pertinent to daily recovery from organizational stress during discretionary time and its influence on job-related behavior,

motivation, and psychological well-being is reviewed. Also, based on anecdotes and empirical evidence, common organizational stresses in the men’s professional tennis tour are summarized.

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Organizational stress is defined as the discrepancy between personal resources and environmental demands related to work (Shirom, 1982). Deeming from the classic

conceptualization of stress (Lazarus, 1966), individual’s cognitive appraisal of the circumstances associated with work environment is the central tenant of the organizational stress process (Woodman & Hardy, 2001). Organizational stress has been studied in many professional settings including business (Cangemi & Khan, 1997; Fried, Tieges, Naughton, & Ashforth, 1996;

Seegers & van Elderen, 1996; Singh, 1998), medicine (Flett, Biggs, & Alpass, 1995; Florio, Donnelly, & Zevon, 1998), military (Rogers, Li, & Shani, 1987), and education (Cox, Boot, Cox, & Harrison, 1988; Mazur & Lynch, 1989). Research findings suggest that organizational stress is significantly associated with multiple health outcomes such as sleep quality and disturbance (Cropley, Dijk, & Stanley, 2006; Nylen, Melin, & Laflamme, 2007), levels of stress hormones (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2006; Sonnentag & Geurts, 2009), and risk of cardiovascular disease

(Glynn, Christenfeld, & Gerin, 2002; Pravettoni, Cropley, Leotta, & Bagnara, 2007). In addition, research indicates that recovery from work-related stress is significantly related to both

satisfaction and performance at work (Demerouti, Bakker, Sonnentag, & Fullagar, 2012; Hendrix, Ovalle, & Troxler, 1985; Jamal, 1985; Kemery, Mossholder, & Bedeian, 1987; Rabinowitz & Stumpf, 1987; Sonnentag, 2012; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015).

Conceptualization of Recovery in IOP

In effort to address how individuals recuperate physiological and psychological resources compromised by the negative consequences associated with increased job demands and

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recovery from work-related stress, particularly during discretionary time, may potentially contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of job performance and psychological well-being (Bakker, 2009; Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Demerouti & Cropanzano, 2010). Majority of studies examined recovery in a daily basis given the fact that adequate recovery may occur during post-work hours in workdays as well as weekends (Geurts & Sonnentag, 2006;

Sonnentag, 2003). This approach seems plausible as the benefits of long-term recovery activities such as vacation diminish rapidly that symptoms of burnout and subjective well-being return to baseline shortly after returning to work (De Bloom, Kompier, Geurts, de Weerth, Taris, & Sonnentag, 2009; Sonnentag, 2003; Westman & Etzion, 2001).

In IOP literature, recovery is often defined as the recuperation process of individual’s physiological and psychological resources to reinstate performance readiness (Demerouti, Bakker, Geurts, & Taris, 2009; Sonnentag & Natter, 2004). It is commonly addressed in the literature that the nature of recovery is characterized by two core concepts: restoration from negative stress symptoms and absence of the stressor (Sonnentag & Geurts, 2009). One common method for measuring levels of recovery is by using series of questionnaires asking about overall mood and readiness before starting work-related tasks (Sonnentag, 2001). This method has effectively captured recovery from work-related stress and associated outcomes such as job performance and well-being, although, it does not account for specific activities associated with recovery, and it is not free from recall bias (Demerouti, Bakker, Geurts, & Taris, 2009;

Sonnentag, 2001).

Sonnentag and colleagues (Sonnentag, 2001; Sonnentag & Natter, 2004; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007) operationalized the term recovery experience, defined as individual’s strategies and activities associated with perceived recovery outcomes, to capture specific (rather than general)

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cognitive and behavioral aspects of recovery process and minimize recall error. Typically,

recovery experience has been examined in IOP research using diary study method. This approach captured recovery experience by analyzing daily records of off-job activities and recovery

indicators, typically collected for 3 to 5 consecutive days, and provided ample information regarding individual’s different approaches and activities that may enhance (or impede) recovery process during discretionary time.

In the same respect of focusing on individual’s leisure-time activities linked to recovery outcomes (i.e., recovery experience), Cropley and Millward (2009) conducted a qualitative inquiry to examine the differences in recovery experience between workers who find difficulty detaching from work during discretionary time (i.e., high ruminators) and workers who find ease detaching from work during discretionary time (e.g., low ruminators). Eight participants

(𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=31.625) identified as either high ruminators or low ruminators based on the

Work-Related Rumination Scale (WRSS) (Cropley & Millward Purvis, 2003) were invited for semi-structured interviews. A process-oriented qualitative approach guided by Interpretative

Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith, 2004; Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) technique was adopted to investigate how individuals make sense of their recovery experiences as participants articulate about their own discretionary time activities. Analysis of the interview data indicated that participants who find ease distancing themselves from work exhibited higher degree of autonomy and cognitive control during working hours, intrinsic motivation, clear work-home boundaries, social engagement, fulfillment and enjoyment of leisure activities, and work-family harmony, as compared to their high-ruminating counterparts.

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As part of the effort to examine the significance of recovery experience from work-related stress during discretionary time, multiple studies have investigated the outcomes of recovery associated with discretionary time activities in different work settings (Demerouti, Bakker, Geurts, & Taris, 2009). In general, outcomes of recovery were measured by comparing different degrees of recovery indicators (e.g., sleep quality, feelings of recovery, feelings of refreshment, motivation for job, etc.) at multiple timepoints around work and non-work time using a dairy study design. Although recovery indicators used significantly vary across study contexts, evidence suggests that majority of recovery outcomes fall into three major categories; well-being, motivation, and job performance (Binnewies, Sonnentag, & Mojza, 2009; Sonnentag 2001 & 2003; Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005; Sonnentag, Binnewies, & Mojza, 2008; Sonnentag & Natter, 2004).

Sonnentag (2001) conducted a diary study to examine how leisure activities influence individual’s well-being. Participants were 100 full-time Dutch elementary, middle, and high school teachers (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=41.0, SD=9.8). A diary study method was employed to capture types of

activities and the total time spent on these activities during post work hours for five consecutive workdays. Also, situational well-being for two different time points (i.e., post work and before going to bed) was measured. Results indicated that low-effort, social, and physical activities were positively associated with situational well-being before sleep, and this relationship was independent of household and childcare activities.

Recovery during discretionary time after work is associated with improved work engagement and proactive work behavior in the following work day (Sonnentag, 2003). In her diary study of 147 full-time employees (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=39.0, SD0=9.9), work engagement was measured

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2002), and proactive behavior was measured by using items adopted from personal initiative measures (Frese, Fay, Hilburger, Leng, & Tag, 1997). Hierarchical linear modeling results supported that recovery is positively related to increased engagement and proactive behavior at work, and work engagement mediated the relationship between recovery and proactive work behavior.

Recovery from job-related stress during non-work time is also positively associated with various dimensions of work performance (Binnewies, Sonnentag, & Mojza, 2009). Combined paper-based and portable computer-based daily survey data of 99 employees (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=38.7,

SD=10.2) from ten German and Swiss public service administrations were analyzed to investigate the relationship between individual’s perception of recovery (i.e., recovery

experience) in the morning and job performance. Results from multilevel analyses indicated that state of being recovered in the morning was significantly related to higher levels of task

performance, personal initiative, and organizational citizenship behavior at work. Additionally, situational flexibility at work (i.e., job control) moderated the relationship between recovery and job performance. For example, higher job control strengthened the recovery-job performance relationship, and vice versa. Secondary analyses indicated that recovery experiences such as psychological detachment, relaxation, and mastery experience during discretionary time and sleep quality were significant predictors of morning time affect which is significantly associated with multiple performance indicators at work (Sonnentag, Binnewies, & Mojza, 2008).

Psychological Mechanism of Recovery Experience during Discretionary Time

Previous research on recovery experience from work-related stress during discretionary time primarily focused on the influence of non-work activities and events such as social

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engagement, physical activity, relaxation, low-effort activity, and vacation, on perceived recovery outcomes (Fritz & Sonnentag, 2006; Sonnentag, 2001; Strauss-Blasche, Reithofer, Schoberserger, Ekmekcioglu, & Marktl, 2005, Westman & Eden, 1997). However, little attention has been given to the psychological processes explaining the relationship between specific discretionary time activities and strategies and observed outcomes of recovery (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007).

Although the psychological pathways of recovery experience during discretionary time is yet to be fully explored, research in IOP focused on psychological detachment as a psychological mechanism that manifests individual’s recovery from organizational stress during discretionary time (Sonnentag, 2012; Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015). Empirical evidence from IOP research has demonstrated that being mentally disconnected from job related issues during non-working hours is significantly associated with reduced symptoms of psychological strains, increased life satisfaction, motivation, and improved job performance (Davidson et al., 2010; Moreno-Jimenez, Mayo, Sanz-Vergel, Geurts, Rodgriguez-Munoz, & Garrosa, 2009; Siltaloppi, Kinnunen, & Feldt, 2009; Sonnentag, Kuttler, & Fritz, 2010). This

stressor-detachment concept (Sonnentag, 2012; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015) is commonly used in IOP to explain the underlying psychological processes within the relationship between specific discretionary time activities and indicators of recovery from organizational stress.

Psychological Detachment

Recovery from work is significantly associated with lower levels of physical and psychological strain reactions, and improved job-related behavior and well-being to selected empirical studies (Bakker, Demerouti, Oerlemans, & Sonnentag, 2013; Fritz, Sonnentag,

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Spector, & McInroe, 2010; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015). Psychological detachment, defined as mentally disconnecting from work during non-work time (Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005), is a psychological concept that explains individual’s recovery experience from work-related stress during discretionary time (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007). From a work-life balance perspective, individuals who have more clear boundaries between work and non-work realms (i.e., higher role segmentation and lower role integration between life domains) seem to distance themselves better from work-related stressors during discretionary time (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000).

More specifically, psychological detachment manifests the process of perceived recovery during discretionary time (Sonnentag, 2012; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015). Empirical research in IOP has demonstrated that having a sense of disengagement from job related issues while engaging in leisure activities during non-work hours is significantly associated with reduced symptoms of psychological strains, less role conflict at workplace, increased life satisfaction, and improved motivation and performance at work (Davidson et al., 2010; Moreno-Jimenez, Mayo, Sanz-Vergel, Geurts, Rodriguez-Munoz, & Garrosa, 2009; Siltaloppi, Kinnunen, & Feldt, 2009; Sonnentag, Kuttler, & Fritz, 2010).

Employees may perceive their working environment as more stressful when

psychological detachment from work during non-work time is insufficient. In their survey study of 136 protestant pastors (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=48.2, SD=9.1) and their spouses (N=97, 𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=46.8, SD=8.1),

Sonnentag, Kuttler, and Fritz (2010) demonstrated that the relationship between subjective workload and emotional exhaustion as well as need for recovery was partially mediated by both employee and spouse’s psychological detachment measured using Recovery Experience

Questionnaire (REQ) (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007). Psychological detachment also moderates the spillover effect (Ilies, Schwind, Wagner, Johnson, DeRue, & Ilgen, 2007; Matjasko & Feldman,

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2006) between work and home, suggesting that mentally disengaging from work may protect individual’s non-work life domains such as sleep quality and family interaction against negative affects encountered at work (Sonnentag & Binnewies, 2013).

Workload is negatively associated with psychological detachment (Cropley & Millward Purvis, 2003; Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005; Sonnentag & Kruel, 2006). In a study of 148 German school teachers (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=47.5, SD=8.8), multiple job stressors including workload, job

involvement, and recovery-related self-efficacy was assessed to examine indicators of psychological detachment (Sonnentag & Kruel, 2006). Multiple regression analyses results indicated that quantitative workload is significantly related to levels of self and family reported psychological detachment, independent of job involvement and recovery-related self-efficacy.

Individual preferences of work-life boundary may influence psychological detachment. A foundational work of Park, Fritz, and Jex (2011) suggested that employees who preferred more clear segmentation between work and personal life domains experienced higher degrees of psychological detachment during discretionary time. Furthermore, a dyadic study with 114 dual-earner couples (N=228) conducted by Hahn and Dormann (2013) showed that not only

employees’ preferences of life segmentation but also their partners’ preferences of work-life segmentation were linked to employees’ psychological detachment.

Psychological Detachment and Job Performance

Switching off mentally from work during discretionary time is critical for maintaining and enhancing performance at work. A day-level study using within subject design by

Sonnentag, Binnewies, and Mojza (2008) suggested that psychological detachment during non-work time at home may positively influence job engagement by improving morning affect in the

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subsequent morning. A longitudinal study (Sonnentag, Binnewies, & Mojza, 2010) showed that psychological detachment moderates the relationship between job demands and work

engagement, implying that the benefits of distancing from work during discretionary time may last over time.

Fritz, Yankelevich, Zarubin, and Barger (2010) conducted a cross-sectional study to examine the relationship between different levels of psychological detachment (e.g., low, medium, and high detachment) and job performance. Based on previous findings that too low as well as very high detachment from work may be detrimental to performance at work (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000), it was hypothesized that moderate levels of psychological detachment is most favorable for task performance and proactive behavior at workplace. Hierarchical

regression analyses results revealed a curvilinear relationship between psychological detachment and indicators of job performance supporting the medium-detachment and high-performance relationship as hypothesized.

Psychological Detachment and Well-being

Research puts forward that mentally distancing from work during discretionary time is associated with indicators of employee well-being such as emotional exhaustion, life satisfaction, and bedtime affect and mood (Sonnentag & Bayer, 2005; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007, Sonnentag & Natter, 2004). For instance, in a dyadic study of 136 full-time pastors (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=48.2, SD=9.1,

29.7% women) in Switzerland, Sonnentag, Kuttler, and Fritz (2010) demonstrated that lack of psychological detachment during discretionary time is significantly associated with higher scores in self-reported emotional exhaustion and need for recovery.

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A linear dose-response relationship between psychological detachment and well-being has been suggested by research. Fritz, Yankelevich, Zarubin, and Barger (2010) conducted a dyadic study to examine the relationship between varying degrees of self-reported psychological detachment and indicators of well-being (i.e., emotional exhaustion & life satisfaction) reported by employees’ significant others. Participants were 107 administrative employees (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=45,

SD=10.71, 95% women, 94% full-time employment) and their significant others from colleges and universities in the US. Hierarchical regression analyses results showed that psychological detachment during discretionary time is significantly associated with employees’ well-being in a dose-response pattern.

Another dyadic study conducted by Hahn and Dormann (2013) demonstrated that employees’ and their partners’ psychological detachment during non-work time may influence employees’ quality of life. Psychological detachment from work during discretionary time and life satisfaction were measured among 228 heterosexual dual-earner couples in the US.

Statistical analyses showed that psychological detachment within dual-earner dyads are

significantly related, and not only employees’ but also their partners’ psychological detachment predicted employees’ well-being.

A longitudinal study found that benefits of psychological detachment on individual’s well-being may last up to a year (Sonnentag, Binnewies, & Mojza, 2010). 309 German and Swiss non-profit organization workers’ psychological detachment was measured at baseline, and emotional exhaustion and psychosomatic complaints were assessed one year later. Study results indicated that psychological detachment is inversely associated with compromised well-being measures over one-year period. Thus, being mentally disconnected from work during

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Organizational Stress in Men’s Professional Tennis Tour

Examining a professional sport context as a workplace allows the application of two important perspectives to SEP research. Frist, it allows the concept of organizational stress, defined as the difference between personal resources and environmental demands at workplace (Shirom, 1982), to be applied in stress management research in SEP. Although elite athletes experience various types of biopsychosocial stresses in pursuit for athletic excellence, publicity, and financial reward (Weinberg & Gould, 2010, p. 505), only few studies have examined organizational stress in professional sport with a standpoint of viewing the context as a workplace. Second, it allows the application of work-life balance perspective to current stress management literature in SEP. Specifically, a clear segmentation between work and life domains may provide opportunity for employing recovery from work during non-work time model

(Demerouti, Bakker, Geurts, & Taris, 2009; Demerouti, Bakker, Sonnentag, & Fullagar, 2012; Sonnentag, 2012; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015) in professional sport research.

Since 1990, the ATP Tour has grown in terms of number of tournaments, television broadcast package sales, revenue, prize money, organizational sponsorship, and media attention under the professional management of the ATP. One side of this is a popular year around sporting event with over 260,000 annual on-site attendance. On the other hand, the circuit is a workplace for professional tennis athletes with continuous high demands and pressure to win and survive.

According to ATP World Tour Media Guide (2018), 66 tournaments are played in 64 different cities in 6 different continents for 46 weeks throughout the season from January to November. Several unique features distinguish the professional tennis circuit from other

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professional sports; lengthy season with a very short off-season, extensive travel, week to week tournament structure and schedule, and weekly updated ranking and prize money system. The interaction between socioenvironmental (e.g., away from family and friends, frequent change of food, culture, and time-zones, etc.) demands and stressors around training and competition creates a complex environment to overcome every week and all year around.

While some SEP literature focused on stress and stress management in competitive tennis, little research has employed the concepts of organizational stress and work-life

segmentation to examine the benefits of stress management on athletic performance and well-being in professional tennis. In the following section, three categories of common organizational stress (i.e., hardships of travel, structure and competitive nature, & financial pressure) specific to men’s professional tennis tour are identified based on the organization and management of the ATP described in the previous chapter, personal anecdotes, and empirical evidence.

Hardships of Travel. Players competing in the ATP Tour often express the hardship of

the frequency, duration, cost, uncertainty of schedule, as well as negative outcomes of extensive travel which is a fundamental part of the professional circuit. As the ATP Tour calendar runs for 46 consecutive weeks, players would typically spend about two thirds of a calendar year in foreign countries and cities for tournament participation while being away from home. Travel associated with this schedule usually involves long-haul flights, constant changes of language and culture, and extended hotel stays. What is more, this travel schedule subject to frequent modification affected by personal and environmental factors such as tournament result, physical and mental fatigue, weather, and homesickness.

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Empirical evidence submits that professional tennis players experience multiple types of stress stemming from extensive amount as well as high degrees of uncertainty of travel. For instance, Allison and Meyer (1988) conducted a study to examine female professional tennis players’ perception about their competitive experiences and subsequent retirement from the professional tennis circuit. Qualitative analyses of interviews and questionnaires from 20 female tennis professionals indicated that being away from their family and significant others for extended period contributed to sense of loneliness as a source of frustration while competing in the tour.

Structure and Competitive Nature of the ATP Tour. The structure and competitive

nature of professional tennis tour may contribute to the development of organizational stress among athletes. For example, week-to-week based ranking system is significantly associated with negative stress responses in competitive tennis. For example, studies demonstrated that weekly updated ranking system produce high degrees of pressure that may lead to career ending decisions in both men and women tennis professionals (Allison & Meyer, 1988, Geyer, 2010).

The win-or-go-home tournament structure creates a stressful environment for athletes. Some researchers found that professional tennis players’ stress hormone levels are significantly higher around first round match each week (Filaire, Alix, Ferrand, & Verger, 2009). One possible explanation for this stress response is the nature of the tournament structure which allows only one player (i.e., tournament champion) to finish without losing while losing is inevitable for rest of the players every week.

Losing in early rounds of a tournament is regarded as a stressful event unique in

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want to avoid every week, although is more likely to happen often throughout the season. In general, early elimination refers to losing from the first-round match before the Wednesday of each tournament, and approximately 50% of players in the main draw faces this situation every week. Early exit from a tournament is often followed by various degrees of stressors and hassles such as adjustments in travel and accommodation, loss of ranking points and prize money, and loss of opportunity to play competitive matches for extended number of days. Below are comments from professional tennis players about early round losses and the subsequent period until next competition. Feliciano Lopez of Spain commented:

Every week (sigh). It’s something that’s part of your job. You know you are going to lose every week, probably. You’re lucky if you win one tournament a year… Loosing is something that is going to happen, for sure, so you have to accept it. As soon as you accept it, you can handle the situation better (Walsh, 2015, n.p.).

A Grand Slam singles finalist and doubles champion, Lucie Safarova of Czech Republic commented:

It’s kind of hard. Not many sports have so many losses. The happiness from victories are so little against the losses you have each week… (Walsh, 2015, n.p.)

Similarly, Yongil Yoon who competed in the ATP Tour in the late 1990s and early 2000s commented about the difficulty of being a professional tennis player. In a personal conversation, he recalled:

You can lose a match in maybe two hours, but it doesn’t take too long to realize that the cost is expensive. No free hotel rooms and foods anymore, long travel, lose ranking points, sudden homesickness and so on. I have experienced this myself as a player, and

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saw many talented young players giving up their career because they couldn’t handle this situation well (Y. Yoon, personal conversation, March 15, 2016).

Financial Pressure. Research shows that the risk of chocking is high among male tennis

players contending under the high competitive nature with high monetary rewards in modern professional tennis (Cohen-Zada, Krumer, Rosenboim, & Shapir, 2017). Also, financial pressure was one of the significant factors contributed to quit behavior among players competed in the ATP Tour from 1985 to 2007 (Geyer, 2010). As such, financial factors may act as a significant stressor among athletes competing in the ATP Tour. For example, on top of fighting for greater prize money, high overhead costs for traveling and training year around can be stressful for players. As per ATP rule, players receive limited complimentary accommodation at official tournament hotels based on entry status (i.e., qualifying or main draw) and tournament level, and transportation mainly between airports, official hotels, and tournament sites. Player in a main draw of ATP 250 event would receive a guaranteed courtesy hotel room for five nights starting on the Saturday before start of the event and until the Wednesday during tournament week. That is, however, if a player loses on or before Wednesday, he becomes responsible for any additional accommodation costs. In addition, players are often responsible for their staff members’ (e.g., coaches, physiotherapists, trainers, etc.) travel, hotel, dining, and salary which easily exceeds their own expenses associated with living and competing in the circuit.

Summary

In summary, stress is the ongoing interaction between personal and environmental resources and situational demands. Focusing on cognitive (i.e., stress appraisal) and behavioral (i.e., coping) components of stress process has driven the mainstream stress management

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literature in SEP. IOP research guided by work-life balance perspective observed that recovery experience during discretionary time is significantly associated with job performance and psychological well-being. IOP literature focused on psychological detachment as a possible psychological pathway for this relationship. Despite the stressful nature of the professional tennis tour as a workplace, the significance of recovery experience during discretionary time in the ATP Tour are yet to be fully discovered. Based on the lived-experiences of current and former athletes who competed in the ATP Tour, this study examined male professional tennis players’ discretionary time activities and strategies associated with recovery outcomes and its possible psychological mechanisms.

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CHAPTER IV

ENQUIRY

As emphasized in previous chapters, this study is highlighted with my personal

experiences and in-depth interviews with former and current players in the ATP Tour. Methods and theories common to qualitative inquiry and physical cultural studies helped to frame the research questions of professional male tennis players’ experiences of recovery from

organizational stress and its psychological processes during discretionary time. Study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) in 2016 (appendix B). Qualitative data were collected through face-to-face and telephone interviews, personal conversations, and on-line and paper-based news magazine articles. Also, players’ win-loss record, ranking history, ranking points breakdown, and prize money data were retrieved from ATP Tour and ATP Playerzone website.

This chapter begins with addressing my positionality as a researcher conducting a qualitative inquiry in the social world of professional tennis. Then, I discuss the use of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) as an interpretative methodology in SEP research. In addition, my personal view of knowing and being (i.e., epistemological and

ontological orientations) for conducting qualitative research is portrayed. This chapter ends with detailed information regarding procedures for data collection and analysis.

Positionality

I identify myself as a Korean researcher with graduate training from an institution in the US and having multiple years of experience in the professional tennis industry. It is particularly

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important to acknowledge that my view of professional tennis would depend on different

positions and privileges I hold, and ultimately affect current and future research of my own.

I recognize that my position and experience in the professional tennis industry as a sport psychology consultant and player’s agent provided in-depth understanding of the structure of the study context as well as ease of access to professional tennis players and research fields (e.g., tournament site, hotel, player’s lounge, training camps, etc.). I acknowledge my privileged position as a Korean researcher with working experience at the highest level of men’s tennis, and that many Asian professional tennis players helped me in this project may feel more comfortable sharing their personal experiences, thoughts, and opinions. I am familiar with the social norms, common behaviors, structure and culture of the ATP Tour, as well as holding some degree of customary presence necessary for transparency and invisibility as an investigator employing a qualitative, cultural, and interpretive approach in sport and exercise psychology research (Angrosino & Mays de Perez, 2000; Krane & Baird, 2005; Taylor, Bogdan, & DeVault, 2015).

I am an avid tennis player and fan. Being involved in tennis in any capacity (e.g., playing, watching, stringing racquets, teaching, working, research, etc) means something special to me. I understand the pressure, tension, and feelings of rewarding experiences associated with playing a tournament and know what it means to win the last point in a final match as well as losing in the first round. I started playing tennis at the age of nine, and never stopped playing since then. I always brought my tennis racquets when traveling. Popular tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tour or Arc du Triomphe were out of my interest while in Paris, but I rather visited local tennis clubs to play pick up tennis matches. I met new people and made new friends on tennis courts. Tennis has been an important part of myself as well as means to understand the world, and I feel

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empathy for another tennis ethnography researcher, Jensen (2012), “I would have loved to have made it as a professional tennis player” (pp. 29).

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Qualitative research has progressively increased its acceptance within the field of SEP, however many scholars have called for methodological diversity and flexibility to capture a more detailed explanation of the social world of sport and exercise (Biddle, Markland, Gilbourne, Chatzisarantis, & Sparkes, 2001; Culver, Gilbert, & Trudel, 2003; Krane, Andersen, & Strean, 1997; Krane & Baird, 2005). Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) is a qualitative methodology developed for an in-depth examination of individuals’ subjective experiences (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). More specifically, IPA is characterized by focusing on differences and similarities (i.e., idiographic) between lived-experiences of multiple individuals in a similar context (i.e., phenomenological), and researcher’s interpretation of such experiences (i.e., hermeneutic). IPA has been employed in different topics in SEP research such as body image (Dimler, McFadden, & McHugh, 2017), transition into and out from professional sport (Brown, Webb, Robinson, & Cotgreave, 2018; Park, 2012; Sanders & Winter, 2016), player development (Miller, Cronin, & Baker, 2015), goal orientation (Sebire, Standage, Gillison, & Vansteenkiste, 2013), and exercise adherence (Chatfield & Hallam, 2016; Pridgeon & Grogan, 2012).

Epistemological and Ontological Orientation

One of the challenges I faced during early stages of my graduate training in SEP was to work within the paradigm and subsequent research culture grounded in a post-positivism

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(i.e., the researcher can be a true observer) is possible seemed to contradict with the interpersonal nature of sport and exercise and its research. For example, in a 6-months randomized-controlled exercise intervention, I observed and experienced the interactions between participant and research staff which subsequently influenced how investigators treat (both positively and negatively) participants in a daily basis, and vice versa. However, there were little

methodological alternatives to account for this subjective and complex nature of human behavior during the data collection process. Such research paradigm also heavily influenced the data analysis process which rarely allowed a reciprocal meaning-making process between the researcher and participant based on their pre-existing knowledge, experiences, perspectives, imagination, and interpretation. As a research assistant, I had written down my experiences and feelings about the daily interaction with exercise instructors, participants, and other research staff in personal notes and diary. I found interesting insights and stories through this process and believed that such information missing from the research projects in which I was previously involved may help to better understand human behavior in a physical activity research study. Such experience facilitated my endeavor of searching for a methodological outlet that accounts for subjectivity in knowledge-formulating process within behavioral science.

It is for this reason that I decided to conduct this research project with commitment to an interpretive and constructivist epistemological orientation. Such orientation emphasizes multiple meanings of reality; relativist ontological perspective, and interaction between the researcher and the interlocutor in knowledge formulating process; subjective epistemological and hermeneutic methodological perspective (Brown, Webb, Robinson, & Cotgreave, 2018; Markula & Silk, 2011, pp. 33). Subsequently, methodology employed in this study (i.e., IPA) is grounded on relativist and critical realist ontological orientation (Shinebourne, 2011). I believe that focusing

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on lived-experiences of individuals as well as its interpretation through double-hermeneutic cycle (i.e., researcher’s attempt to make sense of interlocutor’s subjective experience) would allow me to provide a more complete explanation of the psychological aspects of recovery from organizational stress during discretionary time in the men’s professional tennis tour.

Interlocutors

I interviewed ten male former and current professional tennis players (𝑀𝑎𝑔𝑒=28.89 years)

from Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and India, who had multiple years of competition experience in the ATP Tour (𝑀𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒=9.33 years). At the time of participating in this study, five players

were still active in the ATP Tour, and the other five players had retired from their careers as a professional athlete. Based on biophysical data available on ATP Tour website, interlocutors had an average height of 179.6 cm and weight of 72.7 kg at the time of active status in the

professional tennis tour competition. Among ten players, the highest career singles ranking achieved was 19, and the lowest was 877. Total career prize money earned ranged from $7,279 to $4,823,490. During data collection and analysis, pseudonyms were used to protect

interlocutors’ personal information and confidentiality. Five interviews were conducted in English, and the other five interviews were conducted in Korean. In addition, I had different degrees of personal relationship with the interlocutors. For example, I had long-term friendship (e.g., more than five years) with some interlocutors, while I first met others during the winter training camp in Bangkok, Thailand. Therefore, I acknowledge that I had varying personal interactions with the interlocutors beyond the interviews which each lasted 23 minutes in average. Along with a brief bio-sketch, details about the personal relationship with each interlocutor are briefly described.

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Adam was 33 years old at the time of his first interview, and he was still competing in the ATP Tour as of 2018. After a successful junior career in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) circuit (no. 3 in ITF junior singles ranking), he started competing in the ATP Tour in 2001. He has 29 ATP Challenger singles and 3 ATP doubles titles and achieved career high singles ranking of 33. Adam was married and had one child. I first met Adam during one of the

tournaments in the US during summer 2015 and became good friends since then. Although I met Adam in many different places (e.g., tournaments, restaurants, gym, etc.), it was my first time to meet him in winter training camp.

Bryan was 20 years old at the time of participating in this study. He won 4 career titles in the ITF circuit during his junior years, and started competing in the ATP Tour since 2014. His career high singles ranking is 447, and he mainly competes in the ATP Challenger Tour and ITF Futures events. I had no acquaintance with Bryan before Adam introduce him to me in the beginning of the winter training camp. Although he did not talk much on and off the court, I had opportunities to talk to him during a few lunchtime.

Chase was 20 years old when he first participated in this study. He reached no. 7 in ITF junior singles rankings and made his ATP Tour level debut in 2014. After his first interview in 2016, he won his first ATP Tour singles title in 2017 and broke career high rankings for three consecutive years. I have worked with Chase in athlete-consultant relationship since 2014.

David was 43 years old at the time of interview and retired from professional tennis in 2004. He has one ATP Challenger singles title and achieved a career high singles ranking of 140. He pursued a coaching career since retirement and worked mainly with players competing in the

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ATP Tour. He was married and had three children. I have known David since 2002. I also worked with him in the Korean national team (Davis Cup team) in 2004-2008.

Ethan was 35 years old at the time of participating in this study. While pursuing a professional tennis career, he reached as high as 160 in ATP singles ranking. He retired in 2013 and had been coaching a player who competes in the ATP Challenger Tour. He was married and had two children. I have known Ethan since 2003. I also worked with him as a manager when he played for the Korean Davis Cup team in 2006-2007. However, it was the first time to meet him since 2010 when I left Korea for attending graduate school in the US.

Frank was 35 years old at the time of his first interview. He competed in the ATP Tour for 18 years and retired in 2015. He has nine ATP Challenger singles titles and one ATP Tour doubles title. His highest singles ranking was 77 and retired from professional tennis in 2015. He was married and had two children. Frank and I knew each other but did not meet until the winter training camp. I worked with Frank organizing and planning the winter training camp.

George was 31 years old at the time of his research participation. After a successful junior career, he started competing in the professional tennis tour in 2001. He reached as high as 877 in ATP singles rankings and retired from professional tennis in 2008. He was pursuing a graduate degree in exercise science while coaching a professional tennis player part-time. He was married and had one child. I first met George in 2008 when we were working at a

professional tennis academy in Korea. We were good friends, but never met since 2010 when I left Korea.

References

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